“Disagreeing well” enables abuse, says leading LGBT activist
Leader of the ‘Ban Conversion Therapy’ campaign group, Jayne Ozanne, has said healthy disagreement “gives license for continued abuse”.
Ozanne, who infamously said “gentle, non-coercive prayer” must be outlawed, contested comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on Radio 4’s Sunday programme.
Promoting a new book on ‘reconciliation’, Welby said (c26:30) we must learn to “disagree well” on “human identity and sexuality”.
Disagreement and abuse
Ozanne first suggested that the Archbishop’s comments were “a heteronormative construct & privilege”. She later added that he was giving “license for continued abuse”.
It is inaccurate to compare disagreement with abuse. It is right that all churches stand against abuse and coercion. We all agree that every person is made in God’s image, and that we are called to show God’s love to all.
And it is very disappointing that the Archbishop did not take a stronger stance on the Bible’s clear teaching on gender and sexuality. But it is clearly essential in a democratic society that we learn to live alongside those with whom we strongly disagree.
Ozanne does not agree with traditional Christian beliefs on sexuality and identity – she is entitled to that point of view. But to suggest that disagreeing with her views is equivalent to abuse is manipulative and wrong.
Forcing others to agree
Those calling for a ban on ‘conversion therapy’ continue to push for the ordinary work of churches to be covered by a ban. They don’t like churches teaching the Christian sexual ethic, and demand the Government puts limits on their ability to uphold such beliefs.
Ozanne’s campaign, backed by controversial LGBT group Stonewall, has also said it wants ‘casual conversations’ to be outlawed. Few people could escape a law that covers everyday speech: from parents chatting at the school gate, to feminists who vehemently oppose transgender ideology.
In a country where abuse and coercion are already outlawed, a broad ban on ‘conversion therapy’ is more likely to silence mere dissent and enforce affirmation of LGBT views. It leaves little room for meaningful disagreement.
The vast majority of us would agree that people should be able to disagree. Learning to ‘disagree well’ is an important step for us all, as we live alongside those who differ from us.
The only alternative is forcing others to say they agree. That is much more like the abuse Ozanne says she cannot stand.
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